Syria and Iraq: “Words are not enough to help the people in this region” 


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Top (from left): Christos Stylianides, Elmar Brok and Victor Boştinaru. Middle: Charles Tannock, Marietje Schaake and Javier Couso Permuy. Bottom: Alyn Smith, James Carver and Marie-Christine Arnautu 

MEPs condemned the violence carried out by the so-called Islamic State, also known as Daesh, and called for more support to help its victims. Because of the continuing conflict 12.2 million Syrians were in need of humanitarian assistance by January 2015. During the debate on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq on 11 February, MEPs also called for action on EU citizens joining jihadi groups and for more cooperation with other countries.

Humanitarian aid commissioner Christos Stylianides described the humanitarian situation in Iraq, Syria and neighbouring countries as “devastating”. “Some 20 million people are in need of urgent assistance,” he said, presenting the new Commission initiative that would provide additional €1 billion to tackle the situation in Syria and Iraq.

Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany), the chair of the Parliament's foreign affairs committee, called for a broader coalition against IS: "Qatar, Iran, Turkey, everyone has to be a part of this coalition to put a stop to what Daesh [another name for IS] is doing out there."

Victor Boştinaru (S&D, Romania) described the situation in the region as "one of the gravest humanitarian crises in contemporary history." He added: "Words alone are not enough to help the people in this region. We need to count on the Commission and the international community and local and regional actors have a major role to play."

Charles Tannock (ECR, UK) called for more action on EU citizens joining ISIS and other jihadi groups: “We must coordinate intelligence gathering and sharing and ensure that the laws are in place in our member states to prosecute those who have committed atrocities, including kidnappings, bombings, forced religious conversions and ritual executions of hostages in cold blood.

Marietje Schaake (ALDE, Netherlands) talked about the lack of help and education for young people in the region. “When does the risk of a lost generation turn into a sombre reality? We cannot allow this to happen,” she said, calling for the EU to increase its efforts and cooperate more with partners in the Middle East.

Javier Couso Permuy (GUE/NGL, Spain) called for an end to the support of militia and the purchase of oil: "We should stop financing any kind of militia and buying oil from the oil fields controlled by the Islamic State."

Alyn Smith (Greens/EFA, UK) said “the Islamic State is a consequence as much as a cause” of the problems in the region. “The EU has cleaner hands than most member states in this and we support the [Commission] in its efforts,” he said.

James Carver (EFDD, UK) criticised the stance of the Saudi and Qatari governments towards Daesh: "Unless the Saudis accept their role in allowing propagation of this fundamentalist ideology, the problem will only expand further."

Marie-Christine Arnautu: a non-attached member from France, said: “Normalising diplomatic relations with Syria is necessary for establishing humanitarian cooperation, but also for relaunching cooperation with the Syrian forces for fighting against jihadist cells posing a threat to the stability of Europeans countries.”